Manual of domestic incidents

an artist's book by Hilary Kneale

The continuum, the quotidian, the daily round and common task, the ordinary.

Ordinariness of one foot in front of the other at no particular pace, foot by foot on the floor. A walk for the paper or to buy bananas. The sound of the dryer. The shine of the bedside lamp. The finches at the nuts in the garden. The coat hanging on the back of the door. Damp towel. Piles of clothes. Washing up. Ordinary everyday ritual.

As I spent time researching in the MoDA archive, I found I was drawn more and more to leaflets of instructions, DIY magazines, home management books and articles. I found myself photocopying instructions and lists. How to cover a chair, make a button hole, crochet, clean, the common task. My sister in law knits and knits and as she knits she adds thoughts into her work of the person she is knitting for, she un-knits the stresses and strains, joys and sorrows of the everyday into the continuum of her work. My grandmother, Margaret Alexander punctuated her day with sayings that now add sense and her memory to my own ‘daily round’. As I worked and unpicked and added and wove my way around the archive and my thoughts, the manual of domestic incidents was conceived.

Manual of domestic incidents is a limited edition artist book in which essences of the everyday come and go on the pages. The cups move around the pages suggesting two in company over tea. Hands crochet, looping wool over and over again to create something tangible, wearable, usable, decorative, hands that age and tell their stories through their lines and their skin. Essences and notions of home are found on the pages, a sense sometimes of discomfort or control run in tandem with pathos and humour, these are individual and universal stories. Text in the manual has been collected from poets, artists, friends, family, it has been collected through the written word and through listening, it has been collected from a distillation in my very core through years of participation in family life.

The Munual of Doemstic Incidents is a numbered limited edition of 500 artist books. Copies are currently in the British Library, Womens Library, MoDA archive, as well as in private collections in the UK and abroard. You can purchase a copy on Amazon for £10 + p&p, also at MoDA ( Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture ), bookartbookshop London, Bertram Rota London, artsdepot London April 13 - 29, The Art Shop and Gallery Abbergavenny or contact


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